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Mild Mannered Reviews - Superman: Coming of the Supermen Comics

Superman: Coming of the Supermen #1 Superman: Coming of the Supermen #1

Superman: Coming of the Supermen #1 (of 6)

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 24, 2016

Cover date: April 2016

"The Coming of the Supermen - Part 1"

Writer: Neal Adams (with help from Tony Bedard on words)
Penciller: Neal Adams
Inker: Neal Adams

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

We start with a newscast by Lois Lane, as she announces that more alien beings are arriving on Earth, and asks whether history is repeating itself, are there more Kryptonians arriving on Earth?

We then cut to a farm in Iowa, where a "kindly couple" witness a ship fall from the sky on to their farm. Three beings wearing similar suits like Superman's uniform emerge from the ship, and begin preparations to "hide" their ship.

Meanwhile back in Metropolis, Lois Lane reports that a Boom Tube has opened near the Lexcorp building, and Parademons have come through, and asks, is Darkseid launching an attack on Earth?

Kalibak also comes through from the Boom Tube, and attacks the Lexcorp troopers who are attempting to handle the situation.

Kalibak begins to make short work of them, when the three Supermen that crash landed on Earth earlier, show up on the scene and begin to make short work of Kalibak.

As all this is transpiring, we cut back to Lois Lane's broadcast, where she asks the question, "Shouldn't Superman have been here by now"?

In the Middle East, we see a family running from a missile attack, and are fortunately saved by Superman.

Superman manages to shelter the family from an impending death, when his attention is caught by a young boy, chasing down his puppy, whilst trying to find safety from the bombs falling from the sky. Superman rescues the boy and his dog, when he is greeted by a mysterious dragon-like creature, which calls himself a "Messenger", and tells Superman that he must take the young boy Rafi whom he just rescued away from this land, and keep him safe elsewhere.

A little while later, we find ourselves in Metropolis at what would appear to be the WGBS building, where Lois Lane is doing her newscast. Clark Kent is watching Lois on the monitors, while Rafi and his pup are playing with Jimmy Olson. Clark watches the news feed and watches the 3 Supermen take on the Parademons.

Clark leaves Rafi in the care of Jimmy, and heads toward Lexcorp to join the action.

Lois continues her coverage of the current events, where she is now joined by, via satellite feed, Lex Luthor. Lex spills his usual Anti-Superman drivel, only to be reminded by Lois that he has been against Superman for years, and they both contemplate what the origins are of the 3 newly arrived Supermen, Lex then asks the question, "Where is Superman?".

A short while later, Superman indeed shows up, first he confronts Lex, vowing to return and have a serious talk with him in regards to the appearance of the Supermen, as Superman himself is unsure who they are, and where they came from. He then flies off to deal with the Parademon situation.

The Parademons flee at the sight of Superman's appearance, back into a Boom Tube to their home of Apokolips.

Instead of dealing with the 3 Supermen, Superman spots a familiar, mysterious figure watching the events from a far in the "Messenger", and confronts him about what he may know of the events that have transpired.

The "Messenger" then transports both himself and Superman into the past to ancient Egypt, centuries from the present. He shows Superman the construction of the Sphinx, and then shows him whom it was modeled after, pointing to a figure that strikes an almost identical resemblance to Darkseid. "Messenger" then explains that it is not Darkseid, whom built the Sphinx, but his father...

4Story - 4: Before I get started on the actual review, I just want to mention, that I am a huge Neal Adams fan, and have been since I was very young. This is the reason why I requested to review this series from Steve.

Now on to the review... If you have read Adam's Batman: Odyssey, you know that Adams has a quirky sense of storytelling. This can be off putting to some readers, thankfully this first issue, reads pretty straight.

This story is obviously an Elseworlds tale,which seems to be set in a modern day Bronze Age. Though there was a few troupes that were borrowed from the Post-Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity, such as the billionaire corporate mogul Lex Luthor and Lois Lane breaking the story or naming of Superman. But it does appear this is a Bronze Age Superman tale, told in the present. I liked that Lois and Clark are now (assuming it is WGBS) once again, newscasters.

Adams manages to put a lot of story into 22 pages. There are at least 4 subplots playing out.

The first being the 3 mysterious "Supermen" that appear, in Superman suits/uniforms. Now obviously we assume that they are Kryptonian, not just from their chosen attire, but also from the fact that they address Superman by his Kryptonian name of Kal-El. But knowing that Adams likes to throw curve balls in his stories, they could indeed hail from some other planet altogether... Daxam perhaps... Or even Apokolips. I'm excited to see how their arc will play out. I also liked the fact that all 3 "Supermen" looked to be ethnically diverse.

The second subplot being the mysterious "Messenger". A lot of the development for this character is done through the art. His look is very unique... A man-bat or rather man-dragon like creature, who cryptically warns and advises Superman to take care of a small child. My initial reaction to the "messenger" (aside from his appearance) was he seemed to be a lot like Waverider from the 90's Superman comics. It will be interesting to see what his origins are, and how and why he requires Superman to take the orphan child from his homeland, and why he shows Superman Egypt's "secret history", from centuries ago.

Thirdly we have the aforementioned orphaned child known as Rafi (and his dog Isa). He is a child that Superman is told to take and keep safe by the mysterious "Messenger," which leads us to believe he will somehow play a large role in the events to come. I was surprised that Adam's had Superman reveal to the boy that he and Clark Kent are one and the same, but then this could further develop down the road in the series, so we will just have to watch this space for now.

Lastly of the four subplots we have Jack Kirby's Fourth World characters. From the very few original Fourth World stories I have read, I feel that Adam's with possibly the help of Tony Bedard, really captured the voice of the original Fourth World characters. Kalibak's "Victory For Darkseid... Victory for Kalibak" line, and the Parademon's "Hit it hard! For Darkseid!" felt it was lifted straight from a Jack Kirby written book.

In a past interview for this series, Neal Adams did say that he wanted to capture the essence and do justice to Jack Kirby's creations, and I feel he did manage to do so with this issue at least. No doubt we will be seeing them further down the line, but it was a good introduction in the first issue.

Now... The major cliff-hanger at the end of the issue... Who the Sphinx is supposedly modeled after... Darkseid's father!

I'm not sure if this has ever been addressed the comics before, but I found this a really interesting twist, and am really excited to find out what happens next.

There were some low's in this issue, which to be honest are to be expected, but one major one for me was Lois Lane being reduced to a talking head. She did very little other than just being an expositional newscaster, reminiscent to those used by Frank Miller in The Dark Knight Returns. I'm hoping she will play a larger, more important role in further issues.

The other was when the Parademon's and Kalibak attacked Lexcorp, Lois Lane's dialogue was very "unimpressed"... As if this thing is a regular occurrence in Metropolis. Then again, in this reality, it could be. I just felt some more development in the dialogue could have elevated the gravitas of the situation.

I must say, it's good to feel excited for the next issue of a comic, starring Superman. Not to speak poorly of the regular Superman titles of late, aside from Lois and Clark, I really am looking forward to the next chapter in this series.

5Art - 5: As I mentioned above, I am a huge Neal Adams fan. Adams defined the look of Batman for me, and later, I would discover his Superman in the treasury edition of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, which was just as amazing.

Adams is a legend, and at the age of 74, he still is a great illustrator, and a master at page layouts. His visual storytelling style is still better than most modern artist today. So it's a visual treat for any fan of his work!

I'm glad that Adams chose to go with the classic Superman look, trunks and all. I'm not the biggest fan of the New 52 armor, and glad that editorial didn't make it a mandate, that Adams run with that look.

Ever since we were first shown a promo picture for this series, it was evident that Adams has experimented a little with the yellow belt on Superman's waist. It looks very hard and stylized with the "S" shield on the buckle. I just saw it as Adams playing with some of the Superman Returns costume elements. It's a small nit-pick, nothing too distracting and something that I can live with.

I touched on this earlier in the story part, but the "Messenger's" look was an interesting choice. Just ass Rafi in the story comments on it, he may look scary, but really isn't. Hopefully they explain further down the track what his origin is.

I also wanted to mention the Fourth World characters and their looks. Adams used an updated (almost New 52) look for the Parademon's. Which was an interesting choice, as I expected from comments in an interview, that he really wanted to capture Jack Kirby's essence. Don't get me wrong, it looked good, just wasn't expecting it.

Lastly, Darkseid's father was a big surprise. The fact that he looks identical to his son, shouldn't really be a surprise, but when reading through the book, it did jump out as an "oh wow" moment. On an artistic choice, it was good one on Adams part.

There will be an obvious comparison to Marvel's X-Men villain, Apocalypse... But let's face it, Darkseid is way cooler than he ever was!

We got short glimpses of both Lois and Jimmy. I liked the updated wardrobe and hairstyle Adams gave to Jimmy, very contemporary. However his Lois had a very "yesteryear" feel to her wardrobe and hairstyle. She seemed more like the wife of an oil tycoon, than a primetime news anchor.

Just because I am a big Neal Adams fan, does not mean that I will give him a free pass all the way. There are very few artists in the industry that can handle both pencilling and inking chores. (In my opinion, the only true master of this is George Perez). However, I hate to say this, but I feel Adam's could have used a separate inker on this book/series. It would have helped emphasize his pencil work and page compositions a lot more. I say this, only because, at times, the inking seems very heavy and a little much. The scratchy look gets distracting.

Many people have stated this in the past that a Neal Adams book really looks better without color. Adams art being as illustrative as it is, really doesn't need color. This is not a dig at Alex Sinclair's color art. Alex Sinclair is one of the best colorists in the business today. He has graced almost all of Jim Lee's work in the past 2 decades, along with many other "big" books such as Blackest Night and Flashpoint. That said, I feel having Alex Sinclair's colors, may have been a mismatch. Because at times, they clashed with the art. I feel Adams art is more suited to muted tones, than bright glossy colors.

All in all, a great visual feast for the eyes, not just Neal Adams fans, but all comic fans alike.

5Cover Art - 5: I like this cover very much. It is a very classic cover. It's simply magnificent.

Superman is front and centre as he should be, with the 3 other Supermen in the background. I like the composition of the 4 of them staring into the approaching storm, with the bright sunshine behind them. It gives a great foreshadowing of the possible coming events in the series.

Alex Sinclair does wonders on the colors. Let me mention again, he is one of the best colorists in the business!

5Variant Cover Art - 5: Though it is the same image, minus the colors, as the main cover. There is certain majesty about the raw pencil and inks. Simply awesome!

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Except for digital first releases, the month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016

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